Ban Ki-moon has become the first secretary general of the United Nations to visit Antarctica to see firsthand the impact of climate change on the continent's melting glaciers.
Ban arrived at a Chilean air force base on Friday after a flight from Chile's southernmost city of Punta Arenas. He called for political action to tackle global warming.
"I'm not here as a tourist. I'm here as a messenger. We have resources, we have technology and we have financing," he said.
The only thing missing is political will, Ban added.
The UN chief flew over Antarctica's melting glaciers in preparation for next month's climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, aimed at replacing the Kyoto accord.
Ban and his wife, Yoo Soon-taek, alsorode in an inflatable boat to see a group of shrinking icebergs off King George Island.
Satellite images show the West Antarctic ice sheet is thinning. Scientists warn that over the next century, melting of the polar ice caps could spark a sharp increase in sea levels and major flooding of lowlands.
"This is an emergency and for emergency situations we need emergency action," Ban said during Friday's visit to three scientific bases.
On Saturday, he was scheduled to return to Chile and visit Torres del Paine national park, where experts say the effects of global warming on glaciers are clearly evident.